If you asked any University of Arizona student if they voted in the recent student government election, or even if they’re aware we have a student government, their answer is most likely no.
For the students that did vote in the Associated Students of the University of Arizona student body elections, they had few options. According to the election results, 479 total votes were cast and all but two candidates ran unopposed. In several senate races, most of the votes fell into the “Not Answered” category.
Evidently, participation in student government is incredibly low. But that may be about to change, thanks to this very election.
Those that did vote elected Patrick Robles as our next student body president, and that’s a name that every UA student may want to know leading into next semester.
Robles doesn’t take his position lightly. Even though he was running unopposed, he was campaigning on the UA Mall during elections on March 1 and 2, passing out flyers and meeting students.
“It’s unfortunate that I was the only person running in this race,” Robles said. “It shouldn’t be that way.”
As a freshman, he never expected that he would be this involved in ASUA student government two years later.
“I really didn’t think our student government worked for us,” he said. “I really didn’t think that there was any sort of diverse representation.”
Robles, 20-years-old, is a junior majoring in public management and policy with a minor in pre-law. He graduated from Sunnyside High School in Tucson.
“I’m a product of public schools,” Robles said.
Robles was born and raised in Tucson and was a UA sports fan even as a child.
“I’m a first generation college student, but I come from four generations of Arizona Wildcat fans,” Robles said.
Robles is brimming with charisma, passion and big ideas. He intends to make student government highly visible and accessible on campus. That won’t be an easy task, given that our student population numbers in the tens of thousands, and only a few hundred voted in this election. Still, Robles is undeterred.
Fortunately, this isn’t his first experience in politics. Robles was the student body president in his middle school and high school and has worked in local government since he was 16-years-old. He is active in the community, experienced in public service and has already built relationships with local officials.
Robles currently serves as the community outreach coordinator for the Pima County Attorney’s Office, though he will be leaving that position next year to dedicate his time to his new role as student body president.
He wants to ensure that he uses his position and his knowledge to create space for everyone, especially fellow first-generation students.
“I want to do my part and bring what I can bring in terms of experience, in terms of diversity, to our student government,” Robles said.
Working in government, Robles has met other people that share his passion and optimism. He believes in local government and encourages people, especially young people, to use their voices to speak up on issues that matter.
Increasing overall visibility is central to Robles’ plan for next year. He wants to create a new culture, where ASUA is an active presence on campus
Robles wants to form a marketing team to lead this “rebranding”, and have photographers attending and documenting important events. He believes it’s key that students know what their elected leaders are doing and are updated on their progress.
“I want to be as accessible, as vocal, as transparent as we can be,” Robles said.
ASUA’s offices are located on the third floor of the Student Union Memorial Center, but students won’t have to work hard to find Robles. He plans to have weekly office hours on the Mall and make himself available to hear any students’ concerns and listen to their comments or concerns.
Robles will also meet with President Dr. Robert C. Robbins and other top university leadership on a weekly basis.
“I am absolutely prepared to stand up for students,” Robles said. “That’s who elected me, that’s who I work for.”
As for campus improvements, Robles wants to fully restore the UA to its pre-pandemic glory and address issues that students are concerned about. One of his biggest goals is to extend library hours, so that students will have resources available to them 24-hours a day.
Another major aspect of Robles’ platform is connecting with our campus’ cultural centers and assuring diverse representation for all students.
“I’m not the first Latino in this place, but representation matters,” Robles said.
Robles emphasized his desire to ensure more diverse student leadership. He recognized that a great deal of work needs to be done to ensure that all students, especially those from underserved communities are able to use their voices and have equitable access to opportunities and resources.
“I wanna make sure that we’re building a strong coalition that can come together and find sensible solutions, to advance the mission of creating a quality education experience for all students,” Robles said
He also wants to promote the UA visiting high school students and hold a Tucson Day to advertise local businesses. Robles’ pride in his city is evident and he wants the entire UA community to feel that pride as well.
“I love our Tucson community, and I wanna do whatever I can to make sure that we’re on the right track,” Robles said.
Robles and the UA certainly have a lot of work ahead, but he wants students to have fun, too. Robles wants to host exciting events for students and bring back Spring Fling and large concerts.
As pandemic restrictions are loosened, Robles wants the UA to return stronger than ever and is ready to address issues that may have gone unheard.
“Let’s try to do all that we can to make up for the two years that went down the drain,” Robles said.
He knows he won’t be able to tackle all of these projects alone, and wants to surround himself with other passionate and hardworking students.
“I want to build a strong, diverse, bold team for my presidential cabinet,” Robles said.
Paola Mendivil Yon attended high school with Robles and served alongside him on their student council. Mendivil said that even before she met Robles, he was known around the school for his community service and school spirit.
Mendivil is now a freshman at the UA and helped Robles campaign during the election. She mentioned that she knew nothing about ASUA prior to Robles’ candidacy, but hopes to continue to work with him and be a part of his administration next year.
“He’s very determined,” Mendivil said. “If he sets his mind to something, he gets it done.”
UA junior Sohail Daulat began working with Robles to get more involved in the campus community. He believes in Robles’ ability to accomplish goals and is especially concerned with getting cultural centers involved.
“He makes a good representative because he listens,” Daulat said.
According to Daulat, people throughout the local community have high opinions of Robles and truly respect his ability to follow through with his goals.
“I haven’t met anyone who’s as professional and humble as him,” Daulat said. “He makes the extra effort to personalize connections.”
The experiences Robles had and the people he’s worked with in Tucson continue to guide his leadership style. He was especially inspired by his middle school history teacher, who first got him interested in politics and is still a part of his life to this day.
“My family raised me, but the community raised me as well,” Robles said.
In his free time, Robles enjoys running, reading and listening to music of all genres. He’s always making the most of living in Tucson, whether that’s taking in the views on local trails or patronizing small businesses.
He will be inaugurated at the end of the semester and will have the 2022-23 school year to make the most of his time in office and implement his vision.
“I’m committed to this mission. I’m for the people,” Robles said. “That’s what I’m about.”
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